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Dates: July 4, 2023 - July 25, 2023
Location: Bocas Research Station, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin STRI, Panama
Registration Fee: $995 (includes room and board, STRI registration fee, etc.). Some need-based fellowships are available


Juan Sánchez

University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia

Luisa Dueñas

University of Colombia in Bogotá

Alejandro Grajales

American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA

Davide Maggioni

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Course description:

Cnidarians comprise diverse benthic species, which are ecosystem engineers in tropical costs and reefs. Despite that many species are threatened by the current changing environmental conditions, experts to recognize cnidarians species in the field or laboratory are in the decline. The Caribbean Sea includes exuberant “animal forests” dominated by both hard and soft benthic cnidarians, which constitutes a natural laboratory to study recent diversification process in a wide range of taxa. The goal of the workshop is to provide training and material for direct underwater identification and rapid microscopic examination in the laboratory. During this workshop we will survey the diversity of benthic cnidarians, such as octocorals, corals, hydroids, and anemones, in different tropical ecosystems such as coral reefs, soft bottoms, sea grasses, and mangrove roots. We will work on field identification, coupled with laboratory techniques for the morphological identification to the lowest taxonomic level possible. To cover all the relevant morphological identification for each group we will emphasize on direct identification of living specimens. Additionally, during the workshop we will have keynote talks on different aspects of Cnidarians biology and students will develop short projects taking advantage of the laboratory facilities and access to the field. We will also have a group project on neglected characters such as the polyp/tentacle morphology and phenotypic plasticity, which as a group we can publish as data papers.

The students participating in this course will:

– Be able to recognize the shallow-water benthic Cnidarians of the Caribbean Sea that are found in different tropical ecosystems such as coral reefs, soft bottoms, sea grasses, and mangrove roots.

– Identify these animals in the field and use laboratory techniques for morphological identification at the lowest possible taxonomic level.

Application: Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to before January 20th, 2023. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science & Engineering (OISE) through an award titled “IRES Track II: International Training to Understand the Relationships of Non-Bilaterian Animals” (OISE-1828949). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.